Who was the founder of Christianity?
When was it introduced?
These are two questions that the world has been struggling with for quite some time.
This question yields a host of different answers depending on your viewpoint and depending on which tense of Christianity you want to choose - to mark its beginning and originator - will affect the answer. Paul, the Apostles, Council of Nicaea, Jesus and even God are all possible answers.
Because of this, there are a couple of things that we would like to go through, before diving in to lend answers to these questions.
The Original Founder - Ocean of Theories, Beliefs, and Agendas
One point of frustration that you’ll find when diving in to a topic such as this, is that there are multiple answers to the same question.
Spiritual or religious bias tend to dictate the conclusions one may come to when searching for answers.
Any search you make via the internet or a library, you’ll find a score of different people citing work of different researchers, giving all kinds of different answers toward the questions at hand.
Have you wondered why...
Much of the time, we listen to “experts” that research Christ or Christian history...
...and we’ve got no clue where their own beliefs rest?
Just watch any documentary on the topic.
You’ll quickly discover that there are more of these folks seeking to find reason to disprove Christ, rather than take an un-bias and open approach to whatever they find.
More often than not, researchers and scientists will perpetuate a sense of an un-bias scientific method, but can they truly be un-biased?
Spiritual or religious beliefs are akin to the rudder of a ship.
Even though you can’t see it from the surface, it is still controlling the direction of the ship. If there is evidence contrary to their worldview, it is quickly belittled, overlooked, or tossed aside as an outlier.
Everyone has some sort of agenda at heart, it’s just whether or not we’re honest about it.
Dependent on Your Viewpoint
After pointing out that one’s belief system will tend to direct a given outcome.
We’d like to be up-front and honest with you, and tell you that we will be giving answers from a “Christian worldview.”
A Christian worldview is the perspective that:
- The Bible is true
- Jesus is real
- All that is written about him in both Old and New Testaments are correct.
Another way to say it would be to have a “Biblical worldview.”
Who Founded Christianity?
When asking about who founded Christianity, what exactly do you mean when using the term “Christianity?”
There are a couple of different ways to look at it.
The Creation of Organized and Structured Religion
If you’re talking about it becoming an organized and structured religion...
...the answer to that question would be Emperor Constantine.
In 325 AD, he is the one whi initiated what is referred to as the Council of Nicaea.
Th Council of Nicaea was a collection of:
- Other dignitaries of the faith
This was done in order to streamline the religion, and push out the dozens of different sects that sprang up since the death of the apostles.
So what it’s all about?
Among these sects were a group that we may tend to be more familiar with called the Aryans.
An interesting driving force that pushed the Emperor’s formation of this council, was to settle trouble brewing between two Christian theologians contending with one another in Alexandria, Egypt.
The two at odds with each other were Arius and Athanasius.
The Artian Doctrine's Influence
Arius was pushing a doctrine that was considered heretical by most, and was being viewed as a problem among believers.
His followers were called the “Arians”.
The council successfully voted out the Arian doctrine, and banished those who would choose to propagate it further.
From this point forward:
"The Church” began to become structured...
...in a sense related to what we can see today as the Catholic Church.
All this being said, the Bishops. priests, and dignitaries were getting their doctrine from someone prior to themselves, right?
The Literal Term “Christian”
Just after Christ’s death, burial, resurrection, and his subsequent stay with the apostles for forty days, the belief in the gospel of Christ was referred to as “The Way”.
And guess what?
Before his conversion, Paul (who was then named Saul) stated this in a request to find and persecute those of “the Way”:
And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. Acts 9:2
The label “Christian” was first introduced in a city called Antioch.
This was during Paul’s ministry several hundred years prior to the Council of Nicaea.
The Apostles and believers were not the originators of this term.
This was a term introduced by those outside the belief in the gospel. Antioch in those days was a hub of all kinds of ethnicity and religions.
Let's dig a little deeper...
The Role of the Apostles and the Council of Nicaea
The gospel of Christ Jesus was considered too different to fall under a label of any of the offshoots of Judaism, and didn’t know what to refer to them as.
Because they adhered to the gospel of Christ (Messiah), the name “Christians” appeared.
some say that this wasn’t a term used without dissent.
And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch. Acts 11:26
Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian. Acts 26:28
The apostles in those days were not too popular to the existing religious and political structures of the day.
To top it off.
The gospel continued spreading like wildfire, and people were moving from various camps into the fold of the apostles, irritating the leadership of the existing religions.
Three times in the New Testament the word Christian is found.
Only once was it used by one of the founding apostles.
This would be Peter, but he isn’t using it in a sense that would have promoted being called a Christian, but was speaking to being persecuted “as” a Christian.
Yet if any man suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf. 1 Peter 4:16
At some point between the days of the apostles and those of the Council of Nicaea, the term Christian transformed from a term of dissent to an identity.
The Christian Doctrine - The Gospel
We’ve talked about when the structure was put into place and by who.
Then we took a few steps back to discover the origin of the name of the faith, and who those were using it to identify people.
Both of these items hinge on the existence of something that came before it, right?
...the Christian Church structure wouldn’t exist, nor would the term, were it not for the Apostles themselves.
the first instance of the gospel of Jesus Christ being preached is recorded in the book of Acts chapter 2, on the day of Pentecost.
This could easily be considered the first service publicly held since the departure of Christ.
The Holy Ghost on this day...
...entered in and made known his presence known amongst the believers there at the time.
Acts 2 gives us:
Peter’s first public proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Some could argue that this is the moment the church began, as well as those who were responsible for its founding.
Up till around 70 AD, the church of Jerusalem was considered the gathering place for the leadership of believers. The book of Acts also makes reference to this.
However, what about the focal point of this gospel?
Shouldn’t the one who is the main attraction within the gospel be considered the founder of Christianity?
Did Christianity Start with Jesus?
The answer to this is not as cut and dry as one may believe.
Again, the perspective being driven here is through the lens of a Biblical worldview.
Jesus did indeed spend his days preaching and teaching...
...but he wasn’t preaching what would be considered “Christian Doctrine.”
Jesus was a Jew.
Often butting heads with Jewish leaders who adhered to the doctrines of men, rather than the doctrine given by God.
Through the Pharisitical period, all sorts of laws and rules had been tacked on to the Word of the Lord, denying point and power from the original Mosaic laws.
Jesus spent much of his time straightening that out.
Jesus was able to bring to the table (aside from all of the signs, wonders, and miracles), was God’s original good intention to the laws handed down to Moses.
Having been an active participant in the creation of those laws...
...Jesus spoke with an authority that nobody else could understand, astonishing the listeners while baffling his enemies.
Think about it this way...
Jesus was a Jew fulfilling Jewish Prophecy, from the virgin birth all the way to his resurrection.
But the truth?
The divide between Judaism and Christianity wasn’t prevalent until hundreds of years later, when Catholic leaders decided to begin persecuting the Jews, labeling them as “Christ-Killers.”
Here's the thing:
Jesus did say a few things that might have to draw us back even further through time - perhaps even thousands of years.
Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. John 5:39
Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. John 8:58
Back to the Beginning - The Garden of Eden
Those verses give us reason to look back even further...
...perhaps even further than we may think.
It could be argued that Christianity’s founding was set in motion after the fall of Adam.
Here's the big idea:
Was Christianity Originated in the Garden of Eden?
This might seem strange at first…
However, we are given record in Genesis 3:15, where the Lord himself orates a prophecy to Satan, describing the coming of Christ as the seed of the woman:
And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. Genesis 3:15
God Almighty knows the end from the beginning.
that day in the garden set the course of history, the present, and everything that has yet to come.
Were it not for Adam’s fall there would have been no need for a Savior, because sin would never have entered into the world.
God knew what it would take to correct what happened and gave his one and only begotten son into the world as God and Christ as one, and continued forward incrementally.
So, from this perspective:
God Almighty is the originator of Christianity, as a remedy to the schism created by Adam’s fall.
Think about it like this:
He just took four thousand years or so, slowly bring it into fruition - the physical birth of Christ.
So What's The Conclusion?
Take your pick.
Depending on which tense of Christianity you want to choose to mark its beginning and originator...
...will affect the answer.
By now you've realized.
This is not nearly as cut and dry as people would like...
But neither are our purposes and intentions.
You’ve read about the different viewpoints about the founder of Christianity. Now it’s time to leave your opinion.
The first step?
Leave a comment to let us know which choice you've made.